Child Care

CHILD CARE PROFESSIONAL LICENSING GUIDE

  1. How the Profession is Organized in Michigan
  2. Eligibility for Licensing
  3. Tests
  4. Time and Costs
  5. Other Careers and Credentials
  6. Beyond Licensing
  7. Important links
  8. Tips

1. HOW THE PROFESSION IS ORGANIZED IN MICHIGAN 

OVERVIEW

This guide covers how to become licensed as a child care provider in the state of Michigan. It will explain in general the process involved and the requirements that must be fulfilled in order to become licensed or registered as a child care provider.

REGULATION OF CHILD CARE PROVIDERS IN MICHIGAN

The Bureau of Community and Health Systems within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs licenses and regulates three main types of child care in the state of Michigan. The governing law is known as the Child Care Organizations Act, MCL 722.111 et seq. There are also specific administrative rules that apply to different types of licensing. 

The three types of child care provider registration or license are:

Family Child Care Home:

A Family Child Care Home registration allows a provider to care or supervise from 1 to 6 minor children in a private home (where the licensee permanently resides as a member of the household) for less than 24 hours a day unattended by a parent or legal guardian. The limit on the number of children at a Family Child Care Home does not include children who are related to an adult member of the family by blood, marriage or adoption. It includes care to an unrelated minor child for more than 4 weeks in a calendar year.  

Group Child Care Home:

A Group Child Care Home license allows a provider to care or supervise from 7 to 12 minor children in a private home for less than 24 hours a day unattended by a parent or legal guardian. The limit on the number of children does not include children who are related to an adult member of the family by blood, marriage or adoption. It includes care to an unrelated minor child for more than 4 weeks in a calendar year.

Child Care Centers:

A Child Care Center license allows a provider to care or supervise one or more preschool or school age children for care for periods of less than 24 hours a day, where the parents or guardians are not immediately available to the children. It includes a facility that provides care for not less than 2 consecutive weeks, regardless of the number of hours of care per day.

EMPLOYMENT

According to Michigan Labor Market Information, the average hourly wage for a childcare worker in Michigan is $9.42, with an average annual wage of $19,611. You may become self-employed as a registered or licensed child care provider, operating a Family Child Care Home, a Group Child Care Home or a Child Care Center. You may also seek employment as an assistant caregiver in a licensed or registered home or center. There are numerous opportunities for such employment in every region of the state.

INCREASING PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS AND INELIGIBLE CHILD CARE PROGRAMS

It is illegal in the state of Michigan to provide child care services to children who are unrelated to you by blood, marriage or adoption past the time frames given above, without being licensed or registered by the Child Care Licensing Division.

Initial orientation and ongoing training is offered on a regular basis to licensees or registrants by experienced Licensing Consultant who are assigned to child care providers and centers. These trainings ensure that all child care providers are up to date on any changes in the law and other requirements for the safe and competent care of children.

2. ELIGIBILITY FOR LICENSING

All licensees or registrants must be of good moral character and suitable for providing care to children. A criminal background check will be conducted.

For Family and Group Child Care Homes, the licensed or registered caregiver must be at 18 years of age, have earned a high school diploma or GED, and reside in the home.

A program director for a Child Care Center must be at least 21 years of age and have earned a high school diploma or GED. To be an “early childhood program director” at a Child Care Center, however, there are certain additional requirements for education and hours of experience working with children. (See Rule 400.8113 for more specific information.) Transcripts are used to verify the semester hours of credit from an accredited college or university. Depending on your specific education, you may have to submit verification of hours of experience working with children.

In general, the steps that must be followed to become licensed or registered are as follow:

Step I -- Read the applicable law and licensing rules prior to submitting an application. Go to Licensing Rules for Family and Group Child Care Homes or the Licensing Rules for Child Care Centers and the Child Care Organizations Act (1973 PA 116)

Step II – Complete an application online at online application (using Internet Explorer).

Note that you will need to print out forms and provide certain information along with your application, including:

  • Electronic Fingerprint Clearance through L1 Identity Solutions
  • Licensing Record Clearance
  • Medical Clearance Request (for the applicant and each assistant caregiver)
  • Documentation of Tuberculosis (TB) test results for all persons in the home who are 14 years of age or older. Assistant caregivers must also have documentation of TB test results.
  • Documentation of valid infant/child/adult CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), First Aid and Blood-Borne Pathogen Training for the applicant and any assistant caregivers.
  • Proof of inspection and approval of your heating system for Family and Group Child Care Homes (including wood-burning stoves and any other permanently installed heating devices) and fuel-fired water heater within the past 12 months (from certain specified contractors or inspectors).
  • Documentation that the level of Radon gases does not exceed a specified limit. (See www.michigan.gov/deqradon).

An applicant for a Child Care Center will need to submit a staffing plan, program plan, equipment list, a copy of a written policy for planned food service, a sketch of child use space including indoor and outdoor activity space, admission and withdrawal criteria, discipline policy, schedule of operations, and emergency and evacuation plans. 

The required documentation must be mailed to:

Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Bureau of Community and Health Systems
Child Care Licensing Division
P.O. Box 30650
Lansing, Michigan 48909-8150

Please make and keep copies of all documents submitted to the Child Care Licensing Division for future reference.

Step III – Inspection for environmental health if your home has a private well and/or septic system. (The environmental health inspection, requested and paid for by the Child Care Licensing Division, is done by your local health authority prior to registration.) For child care centers, the facility will be inspected for fire safety, environmental health, playground safety, lead hazard safety and other areas as needed. A licensing study report will be prepared. 

Step IV – After the review and approval of your application materials, you will be invited to attend a required orientation session arranged by your local licensing office. The purpose of the orientation is to review the licensing rules and laws and prepare you for the licensing inspection. The orientation will last approximately 6 hours and give you additional information that will help you be successful in the business of caring for children. Time will be provided for you to ask questions. 

For Family Child Care Homes, at the end of the orientation session you will be given a Statement of Registration to take home and review. You will then need to sign the Statement of Registration and certify that you are in compliance with the licensing rules and law. After you have returned the signed Statement of Registration, you will be issued a Certificate of Registration. Upon receipt of the Certificate of Registration, you may begin caring for children. This registration is in effect for 3 years as long as you continue to comply with the licensing rules and the law, and you reside at the same address.

Step V – Within 90 days of being registered or licensed, your licensing consultant will inspect your home to assess your compliance with the licensing rules and law.  An inspection process also occurs for child care centers.

Step VI --  For Group Child Care Homes and Child Care Centers, once it has been determined that you are in compliance with the rules and the law, you will be issued a 6-month provisional license. Prior to the expiration of the 6-month provisional license, you will receive a renewal applicable packet. After you submit a complete renewal application packet, an on-site inspection will occur. If you continue to remain in compliance with the rules and the law, you will be then be issued a regular license that is valid for 2 years.

3. TESTS

For Family and Group Child Care Homes, the licensee/registrant must be fingerprinted. In Child Care Centers, the licensee, the licensee designee and the program director must be fingerprinted. Note that the licensee designee and the program director may be the same person.

The orientation session counts as 6 hours of training. A Family or Group Child Care Home licensee/registrant must complete 10 clock hours of training each calendar year. An assistant caregiver must complete 5 clock hours of training each year.

For Child Care Centers, 12 clock hours of annual training is required. In addition, program directors and all lead caregivers are required to have CPR certification at the time of hire and every year thereafter. The training must be received from a person who is certified as a Red Cross instructor or a trainer from another organization approved by the Department. Center program directors and all lead caregivers are required to have first aid certification at the time of hire and every three years thereafter. Child Care Centers must have at least one person on duty at all times who has current certification in CPR and first aid when providing care to one or more children.

Technical assistance is also offered as needed by the child care licensing consultants to help you comply with the child care licensing rules. In addition to in-person training sessions, certain training is available by video and distance learning, correspondence courses, online training and webinars.  

4. TIME AND COSTS

For a Family or Group Child Care Home, you can expect the registration/licensing process to take 3 to 6 months to complete after you submit an application packet. For a Child Care Center, you can expect the licensing process to take up to six months to complete after you submit an application packet. Individual circumstances may affect the actual time required.

The non-refundable application fee is currently $50.00 for a Family Child Care Home or $100.00 for a Group Child Care Home. For a Child Care Center, the non-refundable application fee depends upon the capacity (total possible number of children in care) of the center, currently $150.00 for capacity of 1-20; $200.00 for capacity of 21-25; $250.00 for capacity of 51-100; and $300.00 for capacity of 101+.

You must have a credit card or a personal checking account to pay the application fee online. (Discover or American Express cards are not accepted.) If you do not have a credit card or a personal checking account, you can complete and return all of the required application materials with the application fee to:

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Bureau of Community and Health Systems
Child Care Licensing Division
P.O. Box 30664
Lansing, MI 48909

All of the required application materials must be returned in the same envelope. The check or money order for payment of the application fee must be payable to the “State of Michigan.”

For a Child Care Center, the estimated start-up costs currently range from $1,470.00 to $4,830. The costs involved will vary depending on the size of the center, number of staff, capacity of children and repairs needed as a result of inspections. See www.michigan.gov/lara for a breakdown of specific costs. It is recommended that you obtain zoning approval and a lead risk assessment (if the building was built prior to 1978) before signing a lease or contract, as required repairs and fees may determine whether the location should be used. Always get good estimates of work and expected costs before making a commitment.

5. OTHER CAREERS AND CREDENTIALS

Any experience gained as a child care provider may apply in many areas of work involving children, including elementary education, hospitals and medical offices, summer camps, libraries and parks and recreation programs.  Many community colleges and universities offer secondary education programs and degrees in Child Development and Education.

6. BEYOND LICENSING

If your application for a registration or license is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision and request a hearing that will be conducted before an Administrative Law Judge. 

If you become registered or licensed, renewal information will be sent three months before the expiration of your registration/license. You may renew online. A renewal application should be completed no later than 45 days prior to the expiration date of your registration/license. Failure to return the application and renewal fee prior to the expiration of your registration/license will result in the close of your registration/license. You will be required to submit additional information as part of your renewal application.

As a licensee or registrant, you will be responsible for reporting to the Child Care Licensing Division, within 7 working days, any changes in your household composition or when any new or existing members of your household has certain events occurs. See the rules for more specific information.   

7. IMPORTANT LINKS

A list of approved certified playground safety inspectors is available at www.michigan.gov/michildcare. For additional information, please contact the the Bureau of Community and Health Systems at 517-335-1980.